The Memories That Make Us…
About the Book:
Gracie Ashcroft is supposed to marry Blake Beaumont in three months’ time. The trouble is, she doesn’t know who he is…
After an accident leaves Gracie with severe amnesia, she’s forced to decide: live a life that is made up of other people’s memories of who she was, or start a new life on her own. Leaving her fiancé Blake behind, she moves to the country where she takes on the task of reviving her family’s abandoned flower farm.
While attempting to restart a business with an uncertain future, she tries to come to terms with the grief of losing a mother she can’t remember and a fiancé she so badly wants to fall in love with again. What she doesn’t count on is developing a deep connection with Flynn, a local vet. Worst of all is having to confront the fact that she might lose either chance at love.
Forced to examine the person she has become, Gracie confronts the question: if you had your time over, would you live the same life twice?
Flowers were a constant presence in my life while growing up. My grandmother used to grow gladioli and carnations for flower shows and my mother grew roses. I love nothing more than having fresh flowers in the house, yet the green thumb seems to have passed me by entirely, so my flowers come from the shops rather than my own garden. But the memory of being surrounded by flowers, both inside in vases and outside in the yard, is one I preserve carefully. The Memories That Make Us might have easily been titled The Secret Lives of Flowers, so wonderfully rendered is the detail about all things that bloom, intricately woven into the narrative with seamless perfection. Reading this novel was like a trip down memory lane for me – the flower parts, not the losing your memory bit! – and the pages just flew by, that’s how absorbed I was in this gorgeous story.
I really enjoyed the entire premise of The Memories That Make Us. The idea of losing all of your memories and having to build yourself back up again was handled delicately by Vanessa Carnevale. I appreciated Gracie’s need to take herself back to her childhood in order to discover who she was now. Likewise, her separation from all of the people who were so eager to remind her of her lost memories. In this situation, so much would be so overwhelming. Some time and shush would be highly sought after, so I was definitely on board with Gracie’s plan for her own recuperation.
There were a couple of things within this novel, specifically about memory and how it works, that really stood out for me. The first was how Gracie knew nothing at all about herself, or her life, yet she knew things about flowers, instinctively, from the minute she opened her eyes upon waking from her coma. This was particularly fascinating to me and begs examination on just how deeply our memories can penetrate us. She was essentially a blank slate, but the residual knowledge she absorbed while growing up remained. The other thing that led me into contemplation was how Gracie ate different foods and drank different drinks after her memory loss. It makes me wonder how much of daily consumption is contrived by fashion rather than instinct. Do we drink herbal tea because we really like it or is it because we think we should because it’s perceived as better for you than coffee? Do we avoid eating eggs because we don’t like them or is it because we perceive they are no good for us based on the latest food news? I liked the way Gracie’s memory loss got me thinking about life in general. When you lose your memories, and you have to build yourself back up, how much of who you are from before is retained? Memory has always fascinated me and while it’s a very deep topic to delve into, Vanessa did very well with The Memories That Make Us.
I feel quite chuffed because for once in my life, I guessed what was going on before the character! I saw the twist! I have a feeling this was intentional, that as readers, we were meant to know what was going on before Gracie did as a means of heightening the allure. To be sure, waiting on the penny to drop for Gracie kept me turning the pages long into the night. But I’m still going to call this a victory on account of it happening so infrequently.
There’s much to enjoy within this novel and I believe it has widespread appeal. Congratulations to Vanessa Carnevale on a splendid follow up to her debut, The Florentine Bridge. The Memories That Make Us is a moving read that unfolds within a beautifully blooming setting.
To find out more about The Memories That Make Us, check out my interview with Vanessa that appeared recently on the Australian Women Writers Challenge blog as a Sunday Spotlight.
About the Author:
Vanessa Carnevale is a freelance writer based in Australia, who has contributed to The Green Parent, The Huffington Post, Muse, and Italy magazine, among others. Her debut novel, The Florentine Bridge, was published in 2017 by HQ in Australia. She was a finalist in the Best New Author category for the AusRom Today Readers Choice Awards 2017.
You can connect with Vanessa at www.vanessacarnevale.com